A&P Falmouth managing director Gerald Pitts is personally spearheading a management bid team that will be tendering for part of a 10 year, £900 million pound Ministry of Defence (MOD) contract to refit and repair ships of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.

This is the largest contract in the history of the docks; one that requires in-depth preparation and costing’s expertise of the highest calibre if A&P are to be successful in winning part of the contract. But A&P Group will be up against some strong contenders which will probably include Babcock, Cammell Lairds, BAE Systems etc

Gerald said: “having demonstrated excellent value for money to the Ministry of Defence, and a track record of delivering complex projects on time and within budget, the contract was extended for a further 5 years until June 2018. The Contract has been worth in excess of £200 million to A&P Falmouth, with attendant benefits to the local economy. It is therefore imperative that we have the strongest bid team in place to show that A&P can continue to offer the best value for money and technical support to the Ministry of Defence”.

As well as being the MD of the Falmouth yard, he has been chosen by A&P Group to develop the Future In Service Support bid, as Gerald was instrumental in securing the current RFA Cluster contract and MARS UKCATTS which expires next year.

After an extremely competitive bidding process, A&P Group were awarded a 5-year rolling contract in 2008 for five ships, taking responsibility for all operational and maintenance support activities.

The “Future In Service Support” (FISS) contract comes at a time when the MOD is under pressure from the Single Source Regulations Office, the overseer of UK defence procurement to ensure contracts such as the Cluster contract are re-competed for in a competitive and open manner.

The 13 RFA ships and one Royal Navy ship are split into three different capabilities. In Lot one are the ships Cardigan Bay, Lyme Bay, Mounts Bay, Argus and HMS Scott all of which apart from Scott have Falmouth as their current base port under the existing Cluster contract with the MOD.

Lot 2 comprises of the four Tide Class Mars tankers Tidespring, Tiderace, Tidesurge and Tideforce. The Wave Ruler, Wave Knight, Fort Rosalie, Fort Austin, Fort Victoria make up Lot 3.

The FISS contract will run from June 2018 until 2028. The MOD preamble to the contract states: “The support activities will include but are not limited to: planning for and execution of global repair and maintenance; operational defect rectification; obsolescence management; surface coatings and furnishings; risk management and design services; to pre-determined availability requirements; supported by an on-site joint MOD / industry team.”

A&P already fly teams around the world to oversee repairs on RFA ships stationed in the Gulf, Caribbean and other locations.

The long term future of the yard and hundreds of jobs will be secured if A&P win a portion of the FISS. The town will reap the financial benefits the MOD work injects into the local economy.

Grey is the definitely the colour for 2017/18 as the A&P Falmouth gear up for a huge MOD workload. Gerald and Kevin Murray Cluster Team Leader and group superintendent briefed me on the latest RFA programme.

South Korean shipbuilders DSME, builders of the new RFA Tide Class tankers have sent their warranty manager Mr. Lee to Falmouth where he will remain for the next two years overseeing the handover of all four ships. He will work closely with the yard’s “Integrated MARS Management Project” team.

RFA Tidespring is enroute to the Panama Canal and is now expected here in early April for a four month long military customisation programme. Tidespring will then embark on four months of customer acceptance trials trials in the Western Approaches and off Scotland, during which time the replenishment at sea (RAS) equipment; helicopter trials and other military roles will be tried and tested before she enters service with the fleet.

HMS Enterprise arrives in April from her Antarctic deployment for a refit period alongside.

This week RFA Cardigan Bay will undergo trials followed by evaluation by Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) before embarking on her next long term deployment. RFA Lyme Bay is the next Bay Class vessel scheduled for an extensive refit in Falmouth. RFA Mounts Bay, the town’s adopted ship, is in Falmouth for scheduled maintenance and preparations for her next long term deployment later this year.

Planning is already underway at the yard in preparation for RFA Argus undergoing a major refit in early 2018. On top of this workload A&P is actively targeting commercial shipping in a somewhat depressed European ship repair market.